pb13I use Photoshop daily and until today I have never used a free application that would allow me to kick Adobe’s Photoshop to the curb.

Being able to use Photoshop filters and the ability to use masks and layers were a necessity and sure enough those are both features of this application called Photobie.

Upon discovering Photobie 7.2.1 I think I have a major contender in the graphic design freeware war. First of all the download was a mere 4.4 MB. That’s right a full fledged layered graphic editor weighing in at under 5 MB!


After installing the application I was greeted by a Photoshop like interface and this message:

pb1 Photobie is completely free and has a community behind it that is constantly publishing tutorials and how-to’s. For this simple fact Photobie makes a great image editor for beginners. Reading through what the application can do I was amazed. It says that it can do Gif Animation, Screen Captures, Photoshop filter imports (.8BF files), it can make beautiful digital scrapbooks and more!

Ok it sounds too good to be true so I downloaded it and gave it a test drive. Let’s see what I was able to do and how easy it was. This is what your application looks like:

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It has a main window on the right hand side where you can work, it has a free floating layer manager that allows you hide, show or modify layers, and other tool palettes on the right hand side. Just like Photoshop the palettes are moveable and can be rearranged to your hearts content.

You can see the author’s demo/walkthrough of the application via YouTube here:

Out of habit I hit Control – N to create a new document and sure enough it popped up! You can also create a new document by hitting File –> New. pb3

You will then be shown the new image wizard. You will need to specify a width, height, resolution, default file type and you can set your background to a color, image or texture. Not too shabby!

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If you are wondering you can save the file as .pob, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .tif, and .ico.

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You can create a transparent background by checking the box for a transparent background. When you are happy with your settings you can hit ok. You will then have a empty canvas per your specifications to work with like so:

pb6 When you start you will have one layer that is called the background, which happens to be the same in Photoshop as well. As we either paste images in or draw on our canvas another layer will be created. To demonstrate this I will choose the pencil tool  like so:

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Then I drew a line using the colored pen. I used the selected color of black but I could have just as easily switched it by clicking on another color in the color palette below the paint selection.

pb8You can then remove the layer or add a new one from the layer manager, as well as control opacity, hide the layer, create a mask and so much more. This application will leave amateurs looking through hundreds of tools and experts happy that they can do almost anything that they can do in more expensive applications.

You can use the gif animation feature by clicking on GIF_Animation on the top menu and then Animation control panel. That will take you here where you can drag and drop frames to be used in your gif file. You can load a animated gif to be able to dissect it and use pieces of it in your own creations.

pb9 You can set up the screen capture tool by hitting the screen capture button at the top of the menu and then setting the hot keys.

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By default the hot key is Control – Alt – 1. This will grab the active screen and open it as a new document like so:

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There are loads of tutorials up on the Photobie website that will teach you how to use basic or advanced features as well as a full feature list which will demonstrate each feature. These tutorials are available here.

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